SHEFFIELD STOP AND SCRAP UNIVERSAL CREDIT! It affects us all!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/Sheffieldstopandscrap/
Sheffield Stop and Scrap Universal Credit campaign c/o Sheffield TUC 200 Duke Street S2 5QQ
Next Organising Meeting; 1230hrs till 1400hrs Wednesday 31st July Room 3 United Reform Church Norfolk Street Sheffield. Open to anyone willing to help make this campaign a success.
UNIVERSAL CREDIT Day of Action Thursday 1st August Sheffield Stop and Scrap is supporting UNITE the Union’s National Day of Action against Universal Credit. Please join us for a rally outside Sheffield Twon Hall at 5pm. Louise Haigh MP will be one of the speakers.
What we did this month:
- Organised two Stop and Scrap stalls in the community – at Firth Park and Manor Top – talking to local people about the campaign and listening to their experiences of Universal Credit.
- Supported DPAC’s campaign to “Dump the Metro” in protest at DWP propaganda telling lies about Universal Credit #dumpMetroDWPlies
- Wrote to Cllr. Olivia Blake thanking her for meeting us and trying to support claimants, but urging Sheffield City Council to be more proactive in opposing UC
- Ordered a third reprint of our Stop and Scrap leaflet. We’ve been busy handing them out and have distributed 3000 so far!
DUMP THE METRO
The Tory Government’s flagship benefit reform has meant serious cuts in benefit for families and has been roundly criticised
UNIVERSAL CREDIT is hurting.
New claimants have to wait a minimum of 5 weeks before they get any benefit – and that’s if they fill the form in correctly on-line!
UNIVERSAL CREDIT is hurting.
3 Million households will be £1800 a year worse off under Universal Credit, according to the resolution Foundation. The Government admits some families are even up to £2400 a year worse off
Sheffield Stop and Scrap is a collaborative campaign bringing together Sheffield TUC and trade union branches, DPAC, Labour Party, Socialist Party, Sheffield Peoples Assembly, Communist Party, Green Party, Socialist Workers Party and more..
N.B. the Government has saved a whopping £37B in austerity cuts on welfare since 2010! Making the poorest people pay whilst the rich get richer……
DSN Disability News Service
DWP’s ‘universal credit Metro lies’ backfire by sparking new campaign network
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advertising campaign that is now being investigated by a watchdog has backfired by helping to create a national network of campaigners opposed to its new universal credit benefit system, say disabled activists.
The advertising watchdog this week launched an investigation into what critics say are “misleading” DWP adverts that have attempted to “whitewash” the truth about universal credit (UC).
Disabled activists have repeatedly warned that UC – which combines six income-related benefits into one – is “toxic” and “rotten to the core”, with “soaring” rates of foodbank use, and repeated warnings about its impact on disabled people.
The Sheffield branch of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said it was “encouraged” to hear that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had confirmed it was investigating concerns about the DWP adverts, which appear every week in the Metro free newspaper.
But Sheffield DPAC said there were now hundreds of activists around the country who were “actively dumping the Metro newspaper”, and praised a Labour city councillor in Sheffield, Francyne Johnson (pictured, right), who supported the campaign yesterday (Wednesday).
Sheffield DPAC claimed that hundreds of thousands of copies of the free newspaper have been removed from distribution points around the country and sent for recycling.
It was Sheffield DPAC which first raised the alarm about DWP’s plans to launch a nine-week series of advertising features in the Metro.
Senior DWP civil servants had said in an internal memo, first leaked to the Guardian and then to Disability News Service (DNS), that the adverts would “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC” and “explain what UC is and how it works in reality”.
A Sheffield DPAC spokesperson said transport workers were now alerting activists to let them know when and where Metros were being delivered so they could be removed and recycled.
She said: “The campaign has grown from a small protest in Sheffield to a well coordinated and incredibly effective national campaign that has seen hundreds of thousands of copies of the Metro now removed from stands and sent for recycling in just a matter of weeks.
“Initially we were removing them by hand, which was exhausting. Now we’ve got hired vans and large numbers of people removing huge amounts relatively effortlessly.
“Although we’re obviously very angry and upset that these ads are still appearing (they were in Metro today) we’re confident that we can now achieve more and reach farther than ever before as we have such excellent communication between a huge number of unions and groups now, thanks to this campaign.
“The DWP, through releasing this propaganda, have unwittingly created a huge national anti universal credit campaign network. That backfired a bit, didn’t it!”
The latest advertorials appeared in the Metro yesterday, even though ASA announced this week that it has launched a formal investigation into the DWP adverts.
ASA said it has received more than 40 complaints about the adverts.
One of the concerns it will investigate is whether some of the adverts were “obviously identifiable as ads”, rather than being disguised as an investigation carried out by the Metro.
Last month, DNS sent ASA an image of the Metro website’s home page which showed a series of images and claims about universal credit which failed to state that they were actually DWP adverts.
The leaked DWP documents revealed that these adverts were always designed to be misleading and not to “look or feel like DWP or UC”.
ASA will also investigate whether three key claims made in the adverts were misleading and if they could be substantiated by DWP.
These claims relate to criticisms of UC that have been made by welfare rights experts, claimants and activists, based on years of evidence, but which DWP has branded as “myths” in its adverts.
A DWP spokesperson claimed that all the advertising contains the words “Advertising Feature from the Department for Work and Pensions”, even though DNS pointed out that the adverts on the Metro website home page had not done so.
She confirmed that ASA had been in touch with the department and that DWP was “working with them to respond to the points raised”.
She said: “It is important people know about the benefits available to them, and we regularly advertise universal credit.”
She added: “We have consulted the Advertising Standards Authority throughout the partnership and our advertorials reflect their advice.”
Young mother with small baby ‘left without food for days’ by universal credit mistake
Vulnerable people unable to eat and relying on sleeping pills to curb their hunger after being refused benefits, report finds
Friday 19 July 2019 10:15
Research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) found that error and failures in the benefits system, as well as poor advice by universal credit staff, means many people were “getting lost in the quagmire” of the appeals process
Universal credit claimants are being blocked from challenging erroneous decisions by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), leaving vulnerable people without the support they need, according to a new report.
Error and failures in the benefits system, as well as poor advice by universal credit staff, means many people were “getting lost in the quagmire” of the appeals process, the research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) found.
Charity workers told The Independent that some vulnerable claimants had been left unable to eat and been relying on sleeping pills to curb their hunger after their benefits were refused or left unpaid.
Some had had them reinstated on appeal over a year later.
When claimants disagree with a DWP decision on their benefits claim they must ask the department to conduct an internal review, called a “mandatory reconsideration” (MR), before they can appeal to an independent tribunal. Based on an analysis of 1,600 benefit cases from welfare rights advisers across the UK, the report found people were being wrongly advised that decisions could not be appealed.
Some were wrongly told they needed to provide evidence to challenge a decision, which delayed or prevented their efforts to have mistakes corrected.
When people are refused when they first try to claim, their online account is often closed, which the report said made it even harder to get a decision reviewed because letters explaining why it was refused can no longer be accessed.
One case cited in the report said a single mother who worked part-time for McDonalds was left £560 short of her correct monthly entitlement because the system had said she was earning more than £1,500 more than she actually did. She took payslips and bank statements to the jobcentre showing the amount she actually earned but they refused to change her entitlement, saying she had to raise it with HMRC. CPAG said this advice was incorrect.
Another case cited was that of a young mother in Harrow was wrongly denied benefits after fleeing domestic abuse with her two young children. This meant she went “days without food”, it says.
The 21-year-old had already submitted an MR, but it had been refused. It wasn’t until eight months later, when she got support to from her local Law Centre to take her case to tribunal, that the DWP reversed the decision and reinstated her benefits.
Pamela Fitzpatrick, director of Harrow Law Centre, who supported the woman, said: “She finally got rid of the partner but he had isolated her from family and friends so she had nobody. Her six-month-old had a heart condition awaiting surgery.
“When I saw her she was relying on social services to give her a tiny amount of money and food vouchers for the food bank, but she was having to walk to the food bank and back with the baby, living in dreadful accommodation under threat of eviction because she had no money to pay her rent. She hadn’t eaten in days.”
Ms Fitzpatrick said the system was flawed because most MRs rarely lead to a change in decision, although cases are often overturned when they get to the tribunal appeal stage.
She added that DWP staff were often not trained properly, seeing MRs as just a “rubber stamping”.
“It also goes back to the issue of advice. There’s such as lack of welfare benefits advice and legal aid because there have been so many cuts over the years. People are struggling on their own. To find their way through the system is very difficult,” she said. In the foreword to the CPAG report, Dame Laura Cox DBE, former justice of the High Court, said: “Many people are getting lost in the quagmire of the appeals process. Understandably they lose confidence in the system and give up. Erroneous decisions therefore stand, to the detriment of individual families and to society as a whole.
“If, due to complexity, inflexibility or incoherence, the appeals process in universal credit cases is almost impossible to understand and to pursue effectively, incorrect decisions go unchallenged and suffering is prolonged. Children fall through that safety net and our system of justice is undermined.”
Chief executive of Cpag Alison Garnham said the universal credit system “threw up so many obstacles” to getting a decision reviewed that some claimants – often the most vulnerable – were likely to give up and lose out.
“The failure to ensure universal credit operates in a way that upholds basic legal duties is cause for serious concern. Universal credit staff dealing with claimants do not always seem to understand the rules as to how decisions can be challenged,” she added.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with CPAG and welcome the opportunity to do so. We have already improved guidance online and advice to staff about Mandatory Reconsiderations.
“Anyone who disagrees with a benefits decision is able to request a Mandatory Reconsideration either online, by phone, in person or in writing.”